By Talullah Begaye / NM News Port
The sun is setting as you walk down Central, enjoying the smell of food as cars ride beside you. Jittery from finally getting to see live music again. But as you walk up to the door of your favorite venue, the bouncer looks at you and says “Vaccination card?”
With the revival of live music on Central, music venues have begun taking matters into their own hands as cases spike among emerging adults, who are among the least vaccinated and the most infected.
Young people, those aged 20-39, account for over a third of Bernalillo County’s COVID cases.
Cases spiked in August but have gone down in September. New Mexicans 18-24 have the second-lowest vaccination rate. But some people aren’t about having to show proof of vaccination to get into a club.
Isabel Barela has been a regular on the Central live music scene for the past year. Barela has watched the crowd get bigger as more people feel comfortable with getting out of the house. She said she likes to hang out downtown to look at interesting cars drive by and listen to live music.
She has chosen to be unvaccinated.
“It’s ridiculous that you have to get a vaccine to be anywhere,” she said.
Barela said she is waiting for more research before getting the shot.
This, however, does not stop the music venues from setting their own rules to stay up to code with the state.
The Jam Spot is one of many businesses on Central trying to do their part in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
Owner of The Jam Spot, Ben Harding, said that upon arrival at the venue, concert goers must provide proof of their full vaccination to take off their masks.
“We have the right to refuse service,” Harding said.
While there has been pushback, Harding said no one has made a big scene about it.
Most people have left or come back with a mask to enter. The space has even been a little crowded.
“People are ready to get out and about,” he said.
Venues have anticipated the public’s need to get out by queuing up a variety of artists who are ready to perform again. Streets are blocked off and traffic slows. Crowds flock to Central, filled with people who are tired of being cooped up.
As the people come back from quarantine, venue owners have to stay afloat with the spikes in cases and new variants on the rise.
“The spread of COVID-19 in New Mexico has increased dramatically in recent weeks, driven by the highly infectious ‘Delta’ variant and primarily unvaccinated populations,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said in a press release.
On Aug. 17 Gov. Lujan Grisham reinstated the indoor mask mandate and on Sept. 15 extended the mandate for at least another month.
There is no requirement for wearing a mask outside although, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing masks outdoors when in a crowded outdoor setting or in the vicinity of those who are not vaccinated.
Gov. Lujan Grisham said that masks and vaccines are the key to recovery in both hospitals and the economy.
“No one wants to see our recovery endangered by another – and preventable – surge of serious illness. No one wants a full hospital turning away New Mexicans who need care,” Lujan Grisham said.
Scientists say we may not be able to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus in part because of vaccine hesitancy. With lower than ideal vaccination rates, the New Mexico Department of Health urges people with symptoms or in highly exposed areas to get tested.
You can sign up to get a coronavirus test at FindATestNM.org.
Talullah Begaye is a reporter for NM News Port and can be reach @thbegaye on twitter.